The Europe Union wants to slow down the pace of fashion. By laying down a sustainable textile strategy the EU aims to tackle fashion’s environmental impact and labour abuses. The move was plainly summed up by Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, in a speech last year: “Fast fashion is poison for our planet,”
The strategy outlines that clothing garments should be easier to repair and more durable as part of a push to bolster environmental standards. Such standards would also require better quality fabrics and sewing to bolster garment longevity.
"It's time to end the model of 'take, make, break, and throw away' that is so harmful to our planet, our health and our economy," EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said.
The 27-member bloc is specifically targeting the industry’s every stage of use, including sourcing, design, repair and recycling. By 2030 textiles sold in the EU should be crafted from recycled fibres and cut down on the amount of hazardous microplastics they contain as much as possible. Globablly less than 1 percent of clothing garments are recycled.
"Fast fashion should be out of fashion, and economically profitable re-use and repair services should be widely available," a statement said.
Figures published by the European Environment Agency state for every person in the EU, textile consumption requires 9 cubic metres of water, 400 square metres of land, 391kg of raw materials, and causes a carbon footprint of about 270 kg.
Each year Europeans buy 26 kg of clothing and household linen, 73 percent of which is imported, and thrown away, some 11 KG of textiles, or 5.8m tonnes in total, said the AFP.
Most clothing in the EU produced elsewhere
Textiles are the fourth highest-pressure category for the use of primary raw materials and water, after food, housing and transport, and fifth for GHG emissions. The EU textile sector, predominantly composed of SMEs, has started to recover after a long period of restructuring, while 60 percent by value of clothing in the EU is produced elsewhere.
The EU is also calling for innovation in the sector, with producers taking responsibility for their products along the value chain with sufficient capacities for recycling and minimal incineration and landfilling.
Garments will be labelled so that clearer information on textiles and a digital product passport will inform consumers of each facet of the garments they purchase. It further empowers people to tackle greenwashing by ensuring the accuracy of companies’ green claims.
Ultimately the goal is to stop overproduction and overconsumption, and discourage the destruction of unsold or returned textiles.